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Animal control officers get ammunition upgrade

January 28, 2002

Animal control officers get ammunition upgrade



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County animal control officers will begin using a new type of ammunition following an incident recently when a rottweiler attacked one of the officers, county officials said last week.

The five officers in the Berkeley County Animal Warden's office had been using birdshot, which emits a shower of small pellets, said Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith.

But the effectiveness of birdshot was questioned when one of the animal control officers tried to control a rottweiler, Smith said.

The officer shot the dog with birdshot, but the animal continued to charge at the officer and land on him, said Smith.

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"The birdshot did not slow that dog up at all," Smith said.

The Berkeley County Commissioners decided last Thursday to allow animal control officers to instead use an ammunition called Magsafe, Smith said.

The ammunition should give animal control officers more protection from animals but still serve as a safe means of controlling animals, said Smith.

While Magsafe is effective in stopping animals, it is a low-velocity bullet that will not penetrate buildings, Smith said.

Before the ammunition was changed, the first two chambers in an animal control officer's gun contained birdshot and the remaining chambers contained Magsafe, said Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart.

Birdshot was contained in the first two chambers because it was usually effective in controlling animals, Burkhart said.

The commissioners are still considering whether to allow animal control officers to carry their own weapons.

One officer requested he be allowed to carry his own gun, but Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart said he was concerned about use of personal weapons.

Burkhart said he is concerned about officers carrying personal guns who are not qualified to use them, said Smith.

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